Selected Film Reviews

by Mara Math


Reviewed by Mara Math


Carnage is an eighty-minute cry of revenge disguised as a movie, one which might as well have been titled I Thought She Was 18, for Chrissake (Even Though I Had to Ask Her Mom for Permission to Photograph the Kid for Vogue, Ha Ha).

Playwright Yasmina Reza, who collaborated with director Roman Polanski on transforming her play Carnage of the Gods into the screenplay, excels at sustained philosophical argument expressed in unpretentious voice (I’m particularly fond of her play Art), but Polanski plays a cheater’s hand.

The director undercuts any balance between the different schools of thought by making Penelope (Jodie Foster) a sour, sexless killjoy, clearly a stand-in for the feminists and others who could not countenance or excuse his 1977 rape of a thirteen-year-old girl, whom he drugged before sodomizing. (Polanski fled the U.S. after being convicted but before being sentenced.) Kate Winslet doesn’t have much a role either, as the sloppily louche yuppie wife Nancy, but Christopher Waltz and John C. Reilly — ah, the men, such meaty roles, such satisfying vanquishment of the mouthy female!

Polanski ultimately subverts Reza’s entire script with the interjection of one single closing image; rather than a happy hamster, he might as well have filmed himself sticking his tongue out at any audience members whom the film hasn’t seduced out of any tinge of lingering respect for reasoned values.

Posted: 01/12/2012